Charlotte Hornets

What we learned about each player on the Charlotte Hornets roster from preseason

Kemba Walker (with ball) and Dwight Howard (12) will be key members of the Charlotte Hornets’ roster this season.
Kemba Walker (with ball) and Dwight Howard (12) will be key members of the Charlotte Hornets’ roster this season. AP

Observer NBA writer Rick Bonnell’s player-by-player analysis of the 2017-18 Charlotte Hornets:

No. 7 DWAYNE BACON

Position: Shooting guard / small forward

Season: First

What we learned in preseason: Bacon has an NBA-ready body already as a rookie. The Hornets haven’t accomplished much in the second round of the draft; Bacon could change that trend.

No. 5 NIC BATUM

Position: Shooting guard / small forward

Season: 10th

What we learned in preseason: Batum will miss a minimum of the Hornets’ first 15 to 20 games, while a torn ligament in his left elbow heals. Batum’s versatility is important, particularly when he plays with the second unit.

No. 10 MICHEAL CARTER-WILLIAMS

Position: Point guard

Season: 5th

What we learned in preseason: Very little, due to ongoing soreness in both knees that caused Carter-Williams to miss all five exhibition games. He won’t be ready to play in the season opener Wednesday, according to coach Steve Clifford.

No. 21 TREVEON GRAHAM

Position: Forward

Season: 2nd

What we learned in preseason: Not much, because Graham missed most of the preseason with a hamstring injury. But he performed well at summer league and has always been conscientious about his assignments.

No. 12 DWIGHT HOWARD

Position: Center

Season: 14th

What we learned in preseason: Howard will definitely improve the Hornets’ rebounding and rim protection. He committed a lot of turnovers early, a reflection of the learning curve in assimilating him into the offense.

No. 44 FRANK KAMINSKY

Position: Power forward / center

Season: 3rd

What we learned in preseason: Kaminsky will have a significant role, particularly if Marvin Williams plays much small forward in Batum’s absence. Defense has been, and still is, his challenge.

No. 14 MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST

Position: Small forward

Season: 6th

What we learned in preseason: Kidd-Gilchrist didn’t totally get back to his top level of defense last season, after two shoulder surgeries. He’s always going to be limited offensively, but they need his broad-spectrum defense on the perimeter.

No. 3 JEREMY LAMB

Position: Shooting guard / small forward

Season: 6th

What we learned in preseason: Lamb’s strong offseason work, combined with Batum’s injury, platforms Lamb for a bigger role this season. The coaches say he focused on improving his defense over the summer.

No. 9 MANGOK MATHIANG

Position: Center / power forward

Season: 1st

What we learned in preseason: He has one of the NBA’s new two-way contracts, which means he will spend most, and maybe all, of the season with the Hornets’ G-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm.

No. 1 MALIK MONK

Position: Guard

Season: 1st

What we learned in preseason: Rookie Monk’s gift for scoring in a variety of ways was showcased in the preseason. He also showed enough playmaking skills to occasionally play point guard.

No. 8 JOHNNY O’BRYANT

Position: Center / power forward

Season: 4th

What we learned in preseason: Coach Steve Clifford really likes O’Bryant’s potential, particularly as a scorer. However, O’Bryant is this team’s fifth big man, so he won’t play a lot this season, barring injuries.

No. 4 MARCUS PAIGE

Position: Point guard

Season: 1st

What we learned in preseason: Paige is the Hornets’ other player on a two-way contract. He’s Greensboro-bound, to work on his skills. Is he quick enough defensively to guard NBA penetrators?

No. 32 JULYAN STONE

Position: Guard

Season: 4th

What we learned in preseason: Clifford likes Stone’s size, physicality and organizational skills. He understands as third point guard his job is to stay ready, regardless of erratic playing time.

No. 15 KEMBA WALKER

Position: Point guard

Season: 7th

What we learned in preseason: A first-time All-Star last season, Walker had offseason knee surgery. He appears to have bounced back from that procedure. Batum’s injury makes Walker all the more important to Hornets’ execution.

No. 2 MARVIN WILLIAMS

Position: Forward

Season: 13th

What we learned in preseason: Williams is key to keeping the defense organized. He slipped significantly as a 3-point shooter last season. He’ll play some small forward in Batum’s absence, which will be a challenge.

No. 40 CODY ZELLER

Position: Center / power forward

Season: 5th

What we learned in preseason: Zeller should be one of the top backup centers in the NBA. The contrast between Zeller and Howard at the position should be an advantage, and address the lacking depth last season.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

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